The HINDU Notes – 21st December 2019 - VISION

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 21st December 2019

📰 A premature denouncement of the Citizenship Act

Its critics must appreciate the need to bring closure to the consequence of religious theocracy in India’s neighbourhood

•Pinarayi Vijayan, senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Chief Minister of Kerala has written in The Hindu (Editorial page, “Time to defend India’s secularism”, December 18, 2019) on why he opposes the recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act [CAA], 2019. He gives three reasons for his opposition to the legislation.

•In order to take up and rebut these reasons, the aims and objects of this legislation passed by both Houses of Parliament by a large majority, and the historic context for the legislation need first to be made clear.

•The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced in 2019 after long deliberation by the Joint Select Committee of Members of Parliament. A Report of the Committee was adopted by a majority of Members of Parliament and placed on the table of both Houses in 2016. But Lok Sabha elections intervened and so the Bill had to be re-introduced in December 2019.

Ground realities

•The need for this Bill arose partly because the Islamic theocratic nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan have brutally persecuted non-Muslim minorities since 1947. This has led to a sharp fall in the proportion of the non-Muslim minorities in the total population of these countries.

•Those who survived forcible conversion escaped and illegally entered India. They were Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Parsis and they were categorised as illegal migrants. As of December 31, 2014, they numbered 31,313: Hindus (25,447), Sikhs (5807), Buddhists (2), Christians (55), and Parsis (2). Those belonging to two religions were not in this list: Muslims and Jews. A small number of Jews migrated to Israel. No Muslims or Jews came to India over the last 70 years on grounds of religious persecution.

Political concern

•Over the past 70 years, many leaders of different parties expressed concern over the appalling conditions of living of this category of illegal immigrants. Not having citizenship or passports or Aadhar cards, they could not avail themselves of any proper employment and so lived in conditions of poverty and squalor.

•The first authority to express concern over this state of affairs was the Working Committee of the united Congress Party. The Committee adopted a resolution on November 25, 1947 urging citizenship and “full protection to all those non-Muslims from Pakistan who have come over to India or may do so to save their life and honour”. An affirmation of this view came from Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, on December 18, 2003 (a video clip is available in the Parliament Library). Dr. Singh said then: “After the Partition of our country, minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people — these unfortunate people — to seek refuge in our country, our approach for granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal.” The same view was expressed in writing in 2014 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the then Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi.

•Chief Minister Vijayan thus seems not to have appreciated the historical context of the CAA and the need to bring to closure the sad consequence of religious theocracy in our neighbouring nations. Instead he advances three reasons to denounce the CAA: First, that it is ultra vires the Constitution of India, especially Articles 5 to 11 and also 14. Second, that it is divisive, and violative of human rights because it discriminates against Muslims. Third, that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s aim is to establish a Hindu nation and that aim underlies the CAA.

•The first reason is baseless. Articles 5 to 10 have nothing to do with the CAA. Article 11 in fact empowers Parliament to bring such an amendment as the CAA. As for the CAA violating Article 14, we need to look at the letter of Article 14 but also at judgments galore of the Supreme Court of India on the interpretation of this Article.

•A simple example to contradict Mr. Vijayan’s contention is of a Brahmin claiming reservation in education and schools on a par with Scheduled Castes because of Article 14 guaranteeing “equality before law”. The Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that equality before law is only for those equally placed. Here on religious persecution, the Muslims of Pakistan etc., are not similarly placed.

•Mr. Vijayan further adds that “Article 14 applies not only to citizens but all persons within the territory of India.” Do we know of a single example of a Muslim citizen of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh who entered India due to religious persecution and can be identified as an illegal migrant by the official agencies to qualify for citizenship under the CAA? The Union Home Ministry, in the list prepared of this category of illegal migrants, did not discover a single such Muslim from these three countries.

•It should be made clear that there are five ways a foreigner can become a citizen of India under the Citizenship Act, 1955, namely, by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and incorporation of territory. The CAA, 2019 adds a country-specific exception to the naturalisation section. However, any Muslim can become an Indian citizen under the naturalisation section.

Hindutva and Constitution

•Mr. Vijayan makes a “final point”, that “the agenda of Hindutva and the ultimate goal of establishing a “Hindu Nation” underlie the Citizen (Amendment) Act”. Unfortunately, the present Indian Constitution cannot be amended beyond the Basic Structure of the Constitution as defined by the Supreme Court of India. So there is no need for anyone to unduly worry about it.

•For persons like myself, who are committed to teaching Hindutva to our divided Hindu society (on a caste, language, and regional basis), Hindutva is already incorporated in large measure in the present Constitution. For example, the use of Sanskrit vocabulary [Article 351], official promotion of the Devanagari Script and its modified numerals [Article 343], the ban of cow slaughter [Article 48], the uniform civil code [Article 44], and faith as part of the unamendable basic structure. This is enough to usher in a Hindu Nation, because Hinduism is the only religion that formally accepts that all religions lead to God (Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava). Hence Hindutva is not contradictory to secularism.

📰 Will form Ayodhya trust soon: Centre

•The Union Home Ministry has said it is working on the modalities for setting up a trust for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

•In its November 9 verdict, the court asked the Centre to set up a trust within three months. As per the judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the Centre must formulate a scheme with provisions for the setting up of a trust with a board of trustees or any other appropriate body, the functioning of the trust, the powers of the trustees, land transfer to the trust and all incidental and supplemental matters.

•“A trust will be set up within the stipulated time,” a senior official said.

📰 Dual citizenship for Lanka refugees to be examined

•Union Home Minister Amit Shah is learnt to have conveyed to Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami that the State government’s proposal for providing dual citizenship for refugees from Sri Lanka will be examined. The assurance was given when the latter met Mr. Shah in New Delhi on Thursday night and briefed him of the law and order situation in the State, according to a source in the State government.

📰 No action on genuine corporate decisions, PM assures industry

‘India will recover from slowdown’

•Stating that he was aware of the current discussions around the state of the country’s economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that India had seen such ups and downs in the past as well and had the ability to emerge stronger from the current state of affairs. “Such up and downs have come in the country’s economy before as well. But the country has the ability that every time it has come out of such a situation and come out stronger than before. Therefore, India will definitely come out from the present situation,” the Prime Minister said.

•Speaking at an Assocham event, Mr. Modi said, “I am well aware of the discussions that are taking place today about the economy, but in the midst of those discussions, we must also remember that during the earlier government, the GDP growth rate had touched 3.5% in a quarter.”

•He added that under the previous government, headline CPI was hovering at 9.4%, core inflation at 7.3%, and wholesale inflation at 5.2%, while the fiscal deficit had widened to 5.6% of the GDP. “I don’t want to get into why some people were silent at that time,” he said. Under the NDA government, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the July-September quarter hit a 25-quarter low of 4.5%.

•Mr. Modi said in the past five years, the country had made itself so strong that it not only could set for itself a target of becoming a $5 trillion economy, but also make efforts in that direction.

•“Five years before, the economy was heading for disaster. Our government not only stopped this, but also brought in a discipline in the economy. We brought in fundamental changes in India’s economy so that it can run with set rules in a disciplined manner. We have met with the decades’ old demands of the industrial sector and we have built a strong foundation for a $5 trillion economy,” he said.

•Mr. Modi highlighted his government’s decisions such as decriminalisation of corporate offences, and promised that “no inappropriate action will be taken on genuine corporate decisions.” He said Rs. 100 lakh crore would be spent in the coming years on building infrastructure and another Rs. 25 lakh crore on the rural economy and this, in turn, would help nearly double the size of the Indian economy to $5 trillion by 2024.

•Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma took exception to Mr. Modi’s comments, saying, “We know five years ago, the economy was strong when you look at the rate of investment, industrial output or capital formation or job creation. But now [we] are staring at a deepening economic crisis, not just slowdown.”

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